Michael's Dispatches Michael's Dispatches

Taliban Denounce Poisoning of Girls

17 Comments

18 April 2012

Yesterday, about 171 girls and women were poisoned at a school in Afghanistan.  Whereas the blame immediately went to the Taliban, Afghanistan is far too complex for reflexive answers.  Further, there are many groups of "Taliban," and other associated enemies, making it impossible to affix responsibility to a monolithic enemy that does not exist.  The attack might also be the work of a lone wolf.

The Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik recently slaughtered 77 people in Norway. That was terror by a Norwegian against Norwegians.  Back in Afghanistan, at least one American Soldier is accused of recently killing 17 Afghans.  Many victims were women and children.  Back in America, years before the war, a former American soldier killed 168, including many very young children, in Oklahoma City.  Nearly 700 were wounded in that Oklahoma terrorist attack.

That's about 260 people killed in three attacks, apparently by only three white guys, none of whom were Taliban or Muslims.  Some people are just bad, and many act alone or nearly alone.

Read more: Taliban Denounce Poisoning of Girls

RED CROSS: Symbol of Blood

17 Comments

image001-1000Photo Michael Yon

17 April 2012

Army Generals will have the public believe that the Red Cross is a morale booster for our troops.  That load of bull is too heavy even for a Blackhawk helicopter sling load.  During my about three years with combat troops downrange, I've never heard the slightest inkling of "morale boost" from troops who see a Red Cross.

The Red Cross boosts enemy morale. It alerts the Taliban that they have caused casualties.

Read more: RED CROSS: Symbol of Blood

America’s Angry Troops: Message from a Marine

26 Comments

125095-1000Image: DVIDS

13 April 2012

Marine, Army and Air Force sources continue to provide information about MEDEVAC failures in Afghanistan.  Top Army Generals say there are no complaints from the MEDEVAC/CASEVAC community in Afghanistan, but if this were so how is it that I end up with stacks of internal documents from dozens of sources?  In fact, top Army Generals have spent their credibility with the MEDEVAC/CASEVAC community.

In March, an Army Dustoff source revealed that a Marine died from electrocution in Helmand subsequent a slow MEDEVAC dispatch.  (There may have been two separate electrocutions on separate dates.)  Another Dustoff source brought up another Marine who died in Helmand within the last couple of weeks after a double amputation.  Sources say that slow dispatch occurred in both cases.

Read more: America’s Angry Troops: Message from a Marine

Bowe Bergdahl: Two messages from the Taliban

6 Comments

10 April 2012

Over the months I have communicated with the Taliban about US prisoner Bowe Bergdahl.  Numerous times I have asked the Taliban to allow me to visit Bowe.  In each case, the Taliban has declined citing security issues.

It has been said that I am negotiating with the Taliban for Bowe's release.  This is untrue.  I have asked only to visit.  Nothing more.

This morning, I received two emails from the account of Zabihullah Mujahid, a high-level Taliban spokesman in regard to Bowe Bergdahl:

Read more: Bowe Bergdahl: Two messages from the Taliban

Attempted Fraud Using Ebay and PayPal names

28 Comments

img001-1000Scam Packing slip

05 April 2012

Monday I listed some camera gear for sale on Ebay.  Starting bid was $7,000, but for $7,700 a buyer could take everything immediately.  Soon after came a closing sale from the United Kingdom.

The "sale" "went through" immediately for $7,700, and the buyer took it upon himself or herself to tack on another $170 for immediate shipment to Lagos, Nigeria.

Read more: Attempted Fraud Using Ebay and PayPal names

MEDEVACmatters.org

7 Comments

02 April 2012

The Army continues to insist that certain helicopters in Afghanistan must wear Red Crosses to abide by Geneva Conventions.  This is untrue.  There is no requirement to wear Red Crosses in combat.  At cost of troops’ lives, the Army uses these Red Crosses as a tool in bureaucratic infighting about which generals control which helicopters.  And so a power struggle between generals unfolds at cost of the blood of American sons and daughters.  The above facts have been demonstrated beyond dispute.

Read more: MEDEVACmatters.org

Camera Auction

9 Comments

3150-fertilizer5a-1000Kopp-Etchells Effect during combat operations with British Forces. (Sangin, Afghanistan, 2009)

01 April 2012

The time has come for expensive upgrades.  Canon has added the Mark III 5d and soon the Dx to the line.

I have two Canon 5d Mark II bodies for sale with accessories.  The 5d Mark II bodies were incredibly popular with amateurs, full-pros, and with me in places like Afghanistan, Nepal, Thailand many other places.

Since mid-2005, I’ve used nothing but the very best camera gear for the job.  These 5d bodies are by far my favorites.  Great in low light, not heavy, and high quality full-frame sensor.

Read more: Camera Auction

Taliban Sends Message about US Prisoner Bowe Bergdahl

17 Comments

29 March 2012

Several years ago, the Taliban captured a US Soldier named Bowe Bergdahl. Yesterday was Bergdahl’s third birthday in captivity.

I’ve asked the Taliban several times to see Bergdahl.  They have declined in the past citing security reasons.  I recently asked the Taliban again about Bergdahl’s condition.

A message came from key Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.  More accurately, the email came from his account.

There is strong reason to believe that messages from this account are coming from from Zabihullah Mujahid, or someone deep within the “Big T” Taliban.  (Upper leadership.)

In the past, this account has provided me with breaking information that could not have been derived from the news.  For instance, Zabihullah, or whoever uses the account, messaged me last year just as the big hotel attack in Kabul unfolded.  The account provided detailed information so early in the attack that the author must have had foreknowledge.

The actual messages might not be accurate, and they often exaggerate, but the account is real.  This message came on 29 March 2012 in response to my inquiry about Bowe Bergdahl:

“He is healthy and with Taliban , 
we were in tuch with amerian to talk about exchange the prisoner but they not ecept this . and just wast the time .
I personly issure u that he will be released , How , When , this is secret .”

I have requested again to visit Bowe Bergdahl.

Sergeant Godsmack vs. Nazar

64 Comments

Panjway-US-forces-8545cc1000

27 March 2012

PTSD is a serious problem.  Suicides by veterans happen many times per day, every day.  At best, PTSD can degrade the quality of life of veterans and their families.  At worst, unmanaged, the human toll is incalculable.

Other problems with “military PTSD:”

1) PTSD for profit: Disability payments.  Profiteers learn the symptoms, mimic, and then get paid, often for life.  Most symptoms are self-reported, in response to interview questions by military or Veterans Administration (VA) professionals.  Chaplains also serve as a resource.  The PTSD mockingbirds, the fakes, often sing to chaplains, to establish a precedent for later favorable diagnosis.

Read more: Sergeant Godsmack vs. Nazar

Panjway, Afghanistan: Amphitheater of War

14 Comments

Untitled-1000For a larger view please click on image or one of the links below.

23 March 2012

This panorama was made in the general area where the Panjway 17 massacre unfolded.  The view is over the Arghandab River Valley, a place that Canadian and many US forces know well.  The Arghandab can be an interesting place to watch war; there are many vantage points such as this that allow you to witness much fighting.  Sometimes you are in the middle.  The area can be an interactive combat amphitheater.

Panjway Panorama Link: http://gigapan.org/gigapans/101311

I made the 27 photos in this pano in a handheld mode while tagging along with members of the Central Asia Development Group (CADG) who were implementing a water project. We were without troops.  CADG operates freely in some of the most hostile areas of Afghanistan where troops would not go without significant force. This is one of those places.

Read more: Panjway, Afghanistan: Amphitheater of War

Alcohol in Afghanistan

22 Comments

19 March 2012

There are reports that alcohol was involved in the Panjway 16.  There are also reports that alcohol was not involved.

Since 2005, I've only seen two Soldiers truly drunk on missions during about three years with combat troops.  Both were in Iraq.  One Soldier was enlisted, and the other was an officer not in the US military.  Both were absolutely drunk.

The American Soldier—there was a raid and an IED that night—told me that his wife would ship Vodka in mouthwash bottles and she added food coloring as disguise.  The officer was different; his military was allowed alcohol but not to get drunk.

Alcohol was readily available in Iraq through many sources.  Christians in Iraq often had liquor stores.  Muslims were not allowed to sell it, but many liked to drink, as did the Christians.  Some Iraqis complained about Christians fleeing neighborhoods because their liquor stores closed.

Read more: Alcohol in Afghanistan

Sir Petraeus

19 Comments

16 March 2012

This has been secret until a few minutes ago.  The Dutch Minister of Defense just knighted General (ret.) Petraeus in the Hague.  I was invited to go but could not make it, unfortunately.

Major RED FLAG: Military Cover-up in Afghanistan

36 Comments

16 March 2012

Info just coming out that a 22-year-old Marine was murdered on 01 Feb, about 6 weeks ago, in another insider attack.  The military covered it up as if it were combat operations.  Lance Cpl. Edward J. Dycus of Greenville, Mississippi was shot in the back of the head by an Afghan soldier.  Our people immediately turned over the murderer to the Afghans.

That's a huge Red Flag on numerous levels.  How many other "combat deaths" have been caused by insider attacks, and how often has our military covered it up?  How many murderers have been turned over to Afghans?  What happens when we turn over a killer to Afghans?

We've taken about 200 Coalition casualties that we know of from insider attacks.  How many do we not know of?  This cover-up is rotten from head to tail.

Libya Spot Report

6 Comments

image002-1000

16 March 2012

An experienced friend is currently in Tripoli and writes:

I’m telling you, you should get your butt over here to Libya - it’s a really interesting place.  I know everyone’s mind is on Afghanistan these days, but there’s really no comparison. The two countries could not be more different – at least from what I can see here in Tripoli.

Read more: Libya Spot Report

Insurgents Used Cell Phone Geotags to Destroy AH-64s in Iraq

2 Comments

Armycellpic-1000

15 March 2012
The original posting of this article can be found on Defensetech at Military.com

"Here’s a battlefield safety issue that some people have been warning about –and others have been ignoring —  for a while now; an enemy using social media and cellphone geotagging to identify the precise location of troops on a battlefield.

"When you take a photo with your cellphone, the gps coordinates of the location you took the picture is embedded into the image. When you upload said photo onto the internet for all to see, people can pull the location data from that picture. If you think this is just people being paranoid and that the Taliban would never do this in Afghanistan, think again. Insurgents figured out how to use this to their advantage in Iraq years ago. In 2007, a group of Iraqi insurgents used geotags to destroy several American AH-64 Apache choppers sitting on a flightline in Iraq.

From an Army press release warning of the dangers of geotags:

When a new fleet of helicopters arrived with an aviation unit at a base in Iraq, some Soldiers took pictures on the flightline, he said. From the photos that were uploaded to the Internet, the enemy was able to determine the exact location of the helicopters inside the compound and conduct a mortar attack, destroying four of the AH-64 Apaches.

"During Israel’s 2006 war in southern Lebanon with Iranian-backed militia (more like a full on army) Hezbollah, Iranian SIGINT professionals tracked signals coming from personal cell phones of Israeli soldiers to identify “assembly points of Israeli troops that may have telegraphed the points of offensive thrusts into Lebanon.”

"This is just one more example of low-end cyber warfare that can be as deadly as expensive software worms designed to infiltrate an enemy’s most heavily defended networks."

More Mass Murders in Afghanistan

27 Comments

15 March 2012

Got this message from former Marine Tim Lynch, in Afghanistan.  Tim's not always polite, but he's a former infantry officer and I listen to him very closely:

"The Taliban killed 13 women and children today with an IED in Uruzgan and I think they got 8 yesterday - but that's all cool here because they're the Taliban and we're the big fat retarded kid on the block who gets bullied everyday but still shows up to fork over even more lunch money while assuming at some point everyone will like us because we're so xxxxx generous."

The Panjway 16

21 Comments

15 March 2012

The New York Daily News asked for an op-ed on the mass murder in Afghanistan.  I invested several hours writing and they took it as is. As per normal, they changed the title.  Practically every publication does this to suit their specific readership, and that’s fine.  But on my website we can stick with the original title,

“The Panjway 16.”

image-1000Are some in the American forces buckling under the pressure of war?

The mass murder in Afghanistan was predictable. Twice in the past three weeks, I published that it was coming. Why was I able to write this with sad confidence? I’ve spent more time with combat troops in these wars than any other writer: about four years in total in country, and three with combat troops.

About 200 coalition members have been killed or wounded from insider attacks. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is tantamount to being Taliban and has not bothered to apologize. Instead, Karzai whips up anti-U.S. fervor at every opportunity. Twice, Karzai has threatened to leave politics and join the Taliban.

Read more: The Panjway 16

Curses

6 Comments

Boomslangphoto-6-1000Austin Prince, about 12 years, with cobra

12 March 2012

Under my dispatch from Bangladesh: Tigers, Crocodiles, Korans and Superstitions was this comment:

Michael,

We have friends who are missionaries in the Congo. So far this year, they've killed 72 Cobras in their home. The wife told me; "It's beginning to get a little unnerving."

James F. McClellan

And so I called Mr. McClellan’s friends, Brandt and Pamela Prince down in Congo.  Actually, they are not in Congo but the DRC, the Democratic Republic of Congo, a huge country in Central Africa.  DRC is about the size of the US east of the Mississippi.

Read more: Curses

Purple Heart

12 Comments

image001-1000PFC Leah Bartlett awarded Purple Heart

09 March 2012

Reaction to the recent Koran burnings led to dozens of killings.  Some of the attacks were obviously related to the burnings, while others may have been normal background noise of war.  Whatever the specific motivations, bombs still explode hard, and bullets still fly fast.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for a blast in Nangarhar Province:

Read more: Purple Heart

Senator Levin on MEDEVAC

20 Comments

07 March 2012

Senator Carl Levin has been sending a form letter to his constituents.  Key parts of the letter seem to be have been written by the Army.  At minimum, Senator Levin’s responses are a rewrite of Army releases.   His statement perpetuates numerous myths and outright falsehoods.  Carl Levin is Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Oversight is his duty.  If Senator Levin independently researched the Army statements, he would know that they contain falsehoods.

The letter [along with my comments in brackets]:

Dear [Deleted]:
 
Thank you for contacting me about the U.S. Army’s medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) policy.  I appreciate hearing your views on this matter.
 
Following the September 18, 2011, death of Army Specialist Chazray Clark in Afghanistan, concerns were raised about the Army’s MEDEVAC helicopter policy.  The specific circumstances of Specialist Clark’s death are the subject of an ongoing investigation.  For force protection reasons, all helicopters in Afghanistan fly in pairs, and the responsible in-theater commander makes the decision to use an armed escort for the MEDEVAC helicopter based on an appropriate tactical and risk assessment of each situation.

Read more: Senator Levin on MEDEVAC

More Articles ...

  1. MEDEVAC Momentum: Senate Armed Services Committee to Raise the Issue
  2. Sisters at War
  3. Tigers, Crocodiles, Korans and Superstitions
  4. Our Weak Government Must Stop Apologizing for Criminal Behavior of Others
  5. White Birds in a Red War
  6. Army Dustoff Medics Unprepared
  7. PowerPoint Ranger
  8. A Hypothetical Interview General Martin Dempsey:
  9. 66 is not 59
  10. Department of Army Monitoring MEDEVAC Articles
  11. Tippity Top General attempts to Deceive Congressman (in writing)
  12. New Britches: Part II
  13. A Matter of Trust
  14. 17 Members of Congress Want Answers on MEDEVAC
  15. Contempt of and for Congress?
  16. Crucifixion of Common Sense
  17. The Army MEDEVAC Scandal: Report of Conspiracy
  18. Important Letter from Gold Star Mother
  19. 13 Military Pilots Rebuke the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  20. British Officer Slams US Army on Growing MEDEVAC Debacle
  21. Another Dustoff Pilot says Delays Costing Lives
  22. MEDEVAC Links
  23. Thoughts from a Dustoff Pilot
  24. A Young Iranian Woman Writes
  25. Messages from Joint Chiefs of Staff
  26. Time to Leave Afghanistan
  27. CBS Video of MEDEVAC Issue
  28. JCS: Curiouser and Curiouser
  29. Joint Chiefs of Staff: Bogus Report to Congress
  30. Congressman Akin MEDEVAC Letter to SecDef
  31. Marine Urination Video: Some Thoughts
  32. Danger For Senators and Representatives
  33. Progress on Removing Dustoff Red Crosses
  34. AfCats - Wild Cats of Afghanistan
  35. Experienced Camera Gear for Sale
  36. MEDEVAC/CASEVAC Links
  37. Take Me to Your Leader (If you have one)
  38. Passing the MEDEVAC Buck
  39. DELTA Force Commander (former) on DUSTOFF MEDEVAC
  40. Mexico: A Very Interesting Talk by General (ret.) Barry McCaffrey

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